2009 Ratings Discussion


Thought I would start a thread about ratings discussion as it's always one of those things that I think about while watching TV, but never really have the time (or care) to look up. ;)

I've found Nielsen's which are updated weekly at: Top TV Ratings | Nielsen Media Research

If anyone knows of any good links for checking ratings or wants to comment, please do so!


June 8, 2009 Ratings

Sports programs dominated Broadcast TV ratings this week. Basketball finals led the charge for ABC with the Top 3 this past week for Broadcast followed by CBS' "Mentalist", which I've never seen, and ABCs' "NBA Trophy Presentations". No surprise I guess really.


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
Ratings are harder to do now than ever, and honestly, I don't believe in the system and never have. Their sample is incredibly small and they really haven't found a way to keep up with the new technologies.


Super Moderator
Ratings are harder to do now than ever, and honestly, I don't believe in the system and never have. Their sample is incredibly small and they really haven't found a way to keep up with the new technologies.
Three times in one day we agree :deadhorse:

Besides the incredibly small samples, I believe after watching this transition and who was on the side with who, and who's numbers influenced who and cause what statements, laws and ruling to pass..

It's pretty obvious if there isn't a tight connection between Nielsen, NAB and FCC, it's a follow the leader, no more like the blind following the blind. :dizzy:


I wish they would get with the times and come up with a means to show how many people are viewing that particular channel. I'd like to prove which L&O is the most-watched with some solid data.


TiVo's STOP||WATCH service is helping bridge the technology gap, and Comcast is working on a competing service.

By the way, the sample sizes Nielsen uses are not small. They're actually very large, with commensurately remarkably small margins of error. If you want to spend a semester in the applied mathematics class I taught 25 years ago, I could help you understand why that is the case. :)

The legitimate concerns about the the sampling for ratings is not with regard to the sample sizes. Rather, the legitimate concerns are that there is too much self-selection in the sampling. People are randomly selected to participate (that's good), and then they choose whether or not to do so (that's bad). The TiVo system has two sources of sampling bias: The fact that the population of TiVo subscribers, itself, represents a very substantial amount of self-selection (the decision to buy a TiVo), and then on top of that they allow subscribers to opt-out of the data collection, and that introduces another level of self-selection bias. The Comcast system would exhibit the same biases.

Remember, though: Ratings aren't really about how many people are watching programs -- there is no real value in that information -- but rather how many consumers are watching commercials and thereby making purchasing decisions based on that advertising. Therefore, the biases (mentioned above) that tend to make ratings less accurate in measuring "how many people are watching" actually tend to make ratings more accurate in measuring the "how many prospective customers are watching". So effectively, those biases tend to make the ratings less accurate in measuring the unimportant while more accurate in measuring the important.


Ratings are a money game. When money becomes an issue, there are outside forces. Just like the radio industry in the past, promotion professionals would lobby radio stations to play their clients music until it hit the charts even when it was undeserving. I believe Hollywood is no different. I'm sure there is some back door dealing going on. There are probably some on the payroll and highly paid for doing much of nothing. Much of this is repayment for contracts to someone in the know. We've all seen popular television series getting dropped from the line up and every body wondering what happened. Most of us have probably also wondered about a bad series surviving for a longer period of time than it deserved. In either of these two cases I'm sure it came down to inside politics. I'm with those of you who don't trust the ratings system 100%.


Super Moderator
It's rigged, just they are more careful not to get caught. Once upon a time back in the AM radio days you have to pay the local stations (almost all AM's back in the 50's and 60's were family owned) to get records played.

The stations expected the record company to pay them.

I am not sure if it's the origin of the word but we called it "Payola"

It was made illegal at some point but that never stops anyone from profiting in anything that has to go underground or black market. Laws do not force morality in a society.